October is a month with many opportunities to celebrate and support the LGBTT* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit) community. Coming Out Day (October 11), Spirit Day (October 17) and the Ally Week (October 21-25) provide a special time to reflect and advocate for LGBTT* rights and the value of diversity and inclusiveness, and to become Allies!
Coming Out Day (October 11): Every year on National Coming Out Day, we celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or as an ally.
A Resource Guide to Coming Out is a publication that acknowledges that the experience of coming out and living openly covers the full spectrum of human emotion – from fear to euphoria, and is available at http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/resource-guide-to-coming-out. A Coming Out as a Straight Supporter guide is a resource intended to be a welcoming guide for straight supporters to build bridges of understanding when someone they know comes out to them, and is available at http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/straight-guide-to-lgbt-americans.
Spirit Day (October 17): People wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and to speak out against bullying. Observed annually since 2010, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, and public figures wear purple, which symbolizes ‘spirit’ on the rainbow flag.
Participants can take the Spirit Day pledge at www.glaad.org/spiritday and then wear purple on October 17 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.
Ally Week (October 21-25): Ally Week, taking place this year on October 21-25, is a week where people can engage in a dialogue about how everyone can work to become better Allies against anti-LGBT language, bullying and harassment in schools.
Red River College established an Ally Project in September 2010. Allies receive education and training about LGBTT* issues and resources and are expected to support and welcome LGBTT* individuals. Allies are also informed about LGBTT*-positive counselling resources and can provide referral to these persons and programs as appropriate. Allies also support the LGBTT* community by standing up against social and cultural barriers so we can all live in a safer environment, community, and society.
Fabiola Flores-Snell, from the Program & Curriculum Development department at Notre Dame Campus has been an Ally for over 2 years:
“I believe in equality for all people. As an LGBTT* Ally, I’m able to assist those in need, while raising awareness and breaking down barriers”.
Red River College is thrilled to have over 200 allies across our various Winnipeg and regional campuses, career and English language programs, and student support services. All allies are identified by Red River College ally cards, and an ally code of conduct is located in the back of the ally cards with rules of conduct about confidentiality and inclusive and respectful behaviours. For the list of Allies at the College, visit www.rrc.ca/LGBTT.
Allies can be part of the LGBTT* community or not (everybody can be an Ally!), and all Allies participate voluntarily. If you are interested on becoming an Ally, contact Nora Sobel, Diversity Initiatives Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 204.632.2404. Red River College organizes Ally Trainings throughout the year, and a recording of the Ally Training is also available in DVD format to students interested on becoming Allies but unable to attend the sessions.
The Ally Project is part of Red River College’s LGBTT* Initiative that fosters the development of a safe environment on our campuses so everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner. The LGBTT* Initiative provides educational opportunities and resources to build communication, understanding and respect for diversity throughout the College. This is a College-led initiative for all Red River College students, staff and faculty.